The Art of Random Willy-Nillyness: PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE Van Nuys Air Tanker visit in honor of National Fire Prevention Week #fireandrescue
Image Map

Sunday, October 5, 2014

PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE Van Nuys Air Tanker visit in honor of National Fire Prevention Week #fireandrescue

Disclosure: I attended the #VeryBadDayEvent and my expenses: flight, accommodations, transportation and some meals were be covered by Disney. All opinions, however, are 100% mine.

On the first full day of our press event, we headed to the Van Nuys Airport to meet with firefighters. Why? Because many of them were involved in the making of Planes: Fire and Rescue. I thought it was a strange trip to make but then it all clicked when we went onto the grounds of the airport and saw the real planes that the characters of Planes: Fire and Rescue were based on.

We first spoke with Steve Martin, assistant fire chief of the LA County fire Department. Chief Martin was involved in the making of the movie. He was so cute because he kept mentioning how excited he was that his name was in the credits! Here are his remarks.

STEVE MARTIN (SM): My name is Steve Martin. I'm assistant fire chief of the LA County fire Department. Three, almost 4 years ago I was battalion chief in charge of our air operations and our air operations consist of nine aircraft that we have. But during the fire season we augment our fire department's program with contract air and we've done that at very-- through the years for the last 21 years.

First we have what you see is the two super scoopers. They come from the province of Québec. They always come here in September and they generally can go through, depending on when the rains come, middle of November but we've had them as long as into January. I think last year we had big fires in January so they were here until February. We also augment with . . . this one over here. You've seen the movies. Obviously you've seen the characters based on these.

So I received a phone call from some folks that Gaby had worked with about three years ago and they said hey, you know that movie Cars? I'm like yeah. They go were going to do one on planes. And I go well, that sounds like a cool idea. But the Disney folks are so square, they go yeah, we're working for 2014, 15 and 16, like way out. So they were just doing, at that time, investigating it and fact gathering and wanted to know some things. So like I said I've got to give props to the Disney people. They do their homework.

And one of the things was I said, well, now here. You can look at our aircraft that we have, take a look at this aircraft here which is highly visible during the brush and forest fire seasons that we have here. So they came out and they met our folks just like you did today, came here to the facility. They met some of the pilots, the maintenance crew. They walked around the aircraft. They had them fire it up. They listened to the sound of it. They watched it fly. I think some of them even took a flight in it. They really, really did their homework.

They went back to the offices, called me a few weeks later, hey we miss a little something. Sure, come on out. So we had been out here a few times and after that time what they did was they started sending me information, what looked like early scripts. They would send me a script and they highlight, is this the proper word? Is this what terminology you would use? Is this what you-- what would you say in this case? And a lot of times they would scratch something out and I'd say no, no we don't talk like that. This was good. And we help them, I guess that's what you, you know, the definition of someone being a technical advisor.

Basically [they] make a movie but they wanted to be technically correct. And if I look back and I think when my son was young and I go to Disney movies and it's something that I don't know a lot about, it sure sounded like it was correct. But in this case here when it was about the aircraft and it was about flying, it was about the fire department, it was about rescues, we knew the language that we speak. And they took every single one of those things that I said and put it in the script and change the script.

And of course I didn't know what the final product would be until the movie came out. So the movie came out middle of summer okay. Next thing I know my e-mail is blowing up. I've got people that said hey, I went to that Planes movie. And I saw your name on there. And I'm like really? They put my name on there? And they go yeah, LA County. How big was it? Was it big? Was it going fast? Was it like after a TV show or was it real slow with something funny happening? He said, no its slow. It was big.

The one thing everybody has said to me is that yeah, that movie was technically correct. Anybody in the fire service who knows from the political overtones of it to the vernacular they used during the flying or rescues or hoists, whatever it was they did, they took all those changes that we put down and gave them and did not embellish on it. Put it exactly like it was. So again, that made me feel good because the last thing I want to do is have something out there that my boss goes hey, did you tell them to say that? And you know I wouldn't be an assistant chief anymore.
So what they're going to do is release this to home she said during the fire prevention week. So I know all of you have probably looked it up and googled that. The fire prevention week is the second week in October, which coincides with what? Why is that an important week? Anybody remember?

Great Chicago fire. Threw that one at you. The history of the great Chicago fire. So since that time across the nation they've taken that week for fire prevention. And what we do in our department basically, that is our home fire prevention programs and things that we do all year round, they're just more highlighted during this time of year.

Wherever it may be, this is the kind of information that we provide to them and then he'll also tell you how to pull up that information on our website. If anybody wants to be connected to the website we have a fantastic website with all this information on it. And then for one of the nice drills we're going to do is we're going to give you a fire, a home fire extinguisher demonstration that one of our gentlemen is going to do. It will probably do is put the group in half so that he can speak to you here and then we'll go around the side. We have a pan that has fuel and we're going to ask for a couple of volunteers here to come out here and see if they can put the fire out in the pan.

We were also able to see the planes. The yellow plane is the model for Dipper. There are only 2 of these planes in the U.S. with a total of 14 in Canada. The orange plane is the model for Windlifter and the helicopter is the model for Blade Ranger. The most interesting thing about the scooper plane (yellow) is that the scoop is tiny yet picks up tons of water with that little scoop. It picks up 1600 gallons in 12 seconds.

And, if you are unaware, today is the beginning of National Fire Prevention Week. Captain Scott Miller gave us tips to prevent fires and what to do when a fire occurs. I am all about safety and being prepared so this was right up my alley. It is so important to prepare your family in an event of a fire.

Here are 10 Essential Actions you should take:
  • Learn the threats in your area
  • Identify Meeting Places
  • Select and Out of Town contact
  • Know your evacuation routes
  • Know the location of your utility shut-off like gas and electricity
  • Know the emergency policies of schools and day care
  • Identify safe spots in each room to take cover if needed
  • Have extra medications handy
  • Make special provision for children, pets, seniors
  • Schedule annual disaster drills
Other tips were to have Disaster Supply Kits that include water, food, batteries, radio, medications etc. We received some great tips and they can be applied to any disaster situation.

One the most fun parts of the tour was being able to put out a fire. Firefighter Martinez started a fire and taught us how to put it out with a fire extinguisher.

In the end, it was great to be able to see the planes and learn about how they function. Everyone should be aware of what goes into fighting fires because it is such a tough job and I am thankful to those who risk their lives to do so.

After our tour at the airport, we all headed to the 94th Squadron restaurant to have a nice lunch!

Then we headed to the Disneytoon Studios but you will have to wait for that post!

Disney PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE will be out on Blu-Ray November 4th


  1. Interesting post. Intriguing how the movie makes the animations and the script absolutely accurate. Cute how this fireman was so excited that his name was in the credits. Firemen really are heroes and deserve a lot of credit.

  2. Very interesting things on this post about fires. I like the big yellow helicopter. It sure picks up a lot of water at once. The movie Planes Fire and Rescue is an awesome movie! It is so important to have a disaster plane in case of a fire!